For real?

Recently I had someone make the comment that I look like I have it all together

…it was all I could do to keep from laughing….loudly.

I found it so odd that someone would see “all together” when they look at me, because I see something so much different…especially this year.  This year has been a valley for me…a deep one.

My valley has not been because of something tragic or devastating. My valley has been because I asked God to increase and for me to decrease.   And as the months have passed, little by little, He has taken away all that I had learned to depend upon so that He could teach me how to be wholly dependent upon Him.

The first area He worked on was my “service” – the things that I did because He “needed” me and I was using my gifts to “glorify Him”. I love to serve, I love to be involved and a part of something that is changing the world for Jesus. My favorite is to come alongside of people who have very different gifts than I do and cover the bases so that God can use them more effectively. And God let me do that for a season, but in my soul surrender to have Him increase and me decrease, it meant that I could no longer depend upon my own gifts and talents to glorify Him. That He did not really care what I “did” for Him, but who I “was” in Him. He had to take away my serving Him so that my service would not be something I was doing for Him, but rather an overflow of what He is doing in me.

My dependence upon money was next. He provided everything we needed this year, even enough to get us out of debt because He knew it was our heart’s desire to do so. But when you own a business in the luxury  market and talks of a recession begin, our products are the first to go. We did much less business than we usually do. And although I can look back and be thankful that He has provided in abundant and sometimes unexplainable ways, our dependence upon our own ability to create income was taken away, leaving us only to depend upon Him for every provision.

Lastly, and most painfully, He took away the fellowship with others outside of my home. Sure, I still went to small groups at church, but once God clearly impressed upon my heart that my “ministry” was within the walls of my home and that my “disciples” were three little people who have yet to give their hearts to Jesus and a man God has called me to encourage and be one with, isolation ensued. I missed my friends dearly, but life kept going for them and somehow I felt like time stood still for me. It has been lonely, but it has been necessary for Him to fill all those spots where others were filling expectations that were designed for only Him.

I lost my ability to communicate well…unintentionally hurting some very special few.

I lost my ability to plan, organize or stay on top of things (and anyone who knows me, knows that is pure torment in itself).

…when I begged God to make me decrease so that He could increase I had no idea what that meant.

It means that I no longer fight for my own rights and trust Him to fight for me instead.

It means that I keep my mouth shut and pray for a pure heart when my flesh wants to do anything except that.

It means that when someone wrongs me, I apologize and trust God with the rest.

It means that in the multitude of lonely moments, instead of seeking solace in friends or accomplishments, I seek solace in my Savior instead.

It means deciding daily that His ways are much higher than my ways. And that I do not have to understand His ways, I only have to glance at a cross and be reminded of His unwavering love.

This year He’s taken away so much…but filled me with Him instead. He has taken away my ability to produce anything of worth without Him. He has taken away my dependence upon my own gifts or talents, leaving me only with the assurance that when He wants to use me, He will give me everything I need to accomplish His will. He has reminded me that it really is all His and His primary desire is for me to know Him. That He does not need me …but that He wants me. But in Him wanting me, He wants ALL of me.

I am still in this valley…it’s not over yet. But my view from the valley is much different now than it was 12 months ago. Instead of seeing what He has taken away and asking Him why, I see Him walking beside me instead. And I can feel His grasp on my hand – a grasp that I know will lead me up the mountain when He decides it is time.


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